Monday, November 12, 2012

Using Video Game Reviews for Writing

Video Game Reviews 

Breaking into the world of student blogging can be a daunting task for many teachers.  From my experience, "book talks" are usually the first thing teachers use when taking this giant leap for student-kind.  And this is a fantastic way to get your "feet wet" with student blogging.

Nevertheless, my mind goes to the unmotivated students fairly quickly.  Of course, just because we are engaging in digital media doesn't mean that digitally-motivated students will take to blogging without instructional guidance.   Teachers still need to provide students with a set of guidelines and guidance.  It also doesn't hurt to display a few anchor papers or models of great book reviews.

From my experience, many of my unmotivated students were boys that really liked video games.  To get my unmotivated students to write anything, I would usually have to start with..."Well, what do you really like to do?"  This question would open the flood gates to a description of their fictitious wartime experience.  The following sections refer to Common Sense Media and their latest app.

Common Sense Media

I have the Common Sense Media app on my iPhone, and I would suggest it for any teacher or parent with an iPhone.  If you don't have a phone compatible with this app, go to the Common Sense Media website to locate review on various forms of media.  This reliable organization has innumerable and invaluable resources for household families and classroom families.

Lesson Idea:

Here's my idea. It's fairly simplistic. Locate a few well-written reviews of popular video games.  Then, using a document camera, the CSM website, and a LCD, display the review for students to see. When visible, read and evaluate the written video game review.  Highlight the important features of what makes the review a great example.

Step 1: Choose the "Games" category to locate game reviews.  Essentially, you can choose whatever form of media you would like.  I chose the "Games" category to appeal to my gamers.

Step 2: Locate a couple popular games the students discuss on occasion.  If you don't know what games they like, start this conversation and learn about your students' interests outside of school.  To take this a step further, refer to Paula Naugle's 10 Ten Days of Passion.  I choose Halo 4 and as you can see it received a 5 star review.  Parents are given a brief overview of the game and they can preview the storyline.

Step 3: Display and read the app review to the students.  Highlight the features that make the review standout from boring reviews.  Ask: Why is the review well-written?  Does this review make you want to buy the game?  Why?  Is it any good?

Step 4: Have students write their own reviews for different products.  Then, have students become critical friends to discuss and revise their writing.  After that, have students blog their first blog review or product review.  Do they recommend or  not recommend the product?

Tip: To evaluate an apps appropriateness, review the ratings below the review and narrative sections.

This isn't a mind-blowing idea, but just a method for reaching out to the gamers.  Overall, this idea will hopefully make writing book reviews less of a disconnected task.  It at least provides a real-world connections students can use a springboard.  Thank you Common Sense Media for giving me the common sense to utilize this app for writing instruction.

What about having students write other product reviews for multimedia?  How can this idea be taken to the next level?  What type of project could proliferate from this small idea?  Please share your thoughts.

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